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Avalanche Determined To Be Focused In Sweden

Colorado can leave Stockholm with four points

by Callie Parmele /

The Colorado Avalanche practiced at the Ericsson Globe for the second time on Thursday in preparation for the 2017 NHL Global Series against the Ottawa Senators on Friday and Saturday.

The team has been in Sweden since Monday and has been able to explore Stockholm a little bit but it is making sure the focus of the trip is the points that are up for grabs.

"We are treating this as a really cool experience but we also know that we got two hockey games," said forward Alexander Kerfoot. "We are coming over here to win two hockey games and that is the main focus of this trip. We just really got to dial it in tomorrow and Saturday."

Video: Alexander Kerfoot on playing in the Global Series

Kerfoot centered a line with Nail Yakupov and Sven Andrighetto in practice on Thursday in a new line combination ahead of Friday's contest.

Yakupov is finding a balance between work and play on this trip, although he thinks it is somewhat strange to be playing an NHL game outside of North America.

"I don't think I feel like it's an NHL game, being away from North America and again such a big break before the game, between the games," he said after practice. "But [at the] same time I think we are having fun. I think everybody really enjoyed the city here and the time we spent here. But we are going to be back in the mix tomorrow and Saturday.

"It is our job and we are all getting ready for the next game. For us, it is going to be regular season games and huge games for four points. Everybody understands how bad we need those two points so guys are doing a really good job on the ice."

Colorado captain and Stockholm native, Gabriel Landeskog agrees that the focus of the team has moved from seeing the city to the games at hand.

"Waking up tomorrow, and for the rest of the day today here, it is going to be making sure we are getting ready for the games," the 24-year-old said. "It is a big back-to-back. We know how important the month of November is and making sure that you are in a good spot going into Christmas. We know this is a big four points."

While in Stockholm, Landeskog hopes that playing NHL games in front of a Swedish crowd will impact kids who are interested in hockey but haven't had much of an opportunity to see NHL games.

Video: English portion of Gabe Landeskog's press conference

"That is really the main thing, I think why we are doing this--to influence the next generation of hockey players," Landeskog said. "When the Avs came here in 2001, I came and I was sitting right in these stands and I was watching Joe Sakic and [Milan] Hejduk and [Patrick Roy] and all these guys playing.

"Unfortunately, Peter [Forsberg] wasn't playing that weekend, I was pretty upset about that, but it is something that influenced me for the rest of my life. I always looked up to them and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I hope that we can influence the younger generation of hockey players the way that Peter and [Nicklas] Lidstrom and [Daniel Alfredsson] and these guys did to me."

The back-to-back set in Stockholm will be the six time the NHL has played regular-season games in Europe, and the first time since 2011. The games will be the 21st and 22nd games played in Europe.

"I think it would be great if this is something we can do again or at least for the league to keep growing and keep exploring other countries and growing the game that way," the Colorado captain said. "I know hockey fans are passionate all over Europe. I knew that right from the get go when I got asked a year ago if I thought this was good idea.

"Hockey interest is great in Sweden, they just don't get the opportunity to watch NHL hockey games much with the time difference and things like that. To bring the game over here once a year at least, I think is a great way to showcase the league and showcase the players really and that way grow the game."

But, because they are regular season games and every point counts, the focus of the team must be on the task at hand.

Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar wants his team to focus on the same game plan that he has been endorsing all season.

"Our message, I think from the start of the year, is that we got to try to establish an identity to this group," said Bednar. "The way we play and some of the things that we are trying to do on a daily basis starts with our work ethic, our compete level and the way we skate. I think the games we have won this year and the games we have played well in we have played to that identity and we have had success.

"I think some of our losses we haven't been there. Either committed enough or buying into the way we are playing with our puck decisions and it has cost us hockey games. Finding that consistency and making sure we are working to get better every day is our key and it won't change for this weekend's games here in Sweden."

Video: Jared Bednar after the Avs' second practice in Sweden

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